PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds can be an intense multiplayer experience, but the only way to really learn how to play it is to actually jump in. The battle royale-style game pits up to 100 players against each other, with the single goal of being the last player standing.
With no tutorial, single-player mode, or other traditional ways to pick up how the game works, most players just have to spend lots of time getting killed in Battlegrounds in order to learn the ropes. But with a little information about the essentials, you can cut the learning curve significantly. Here are 12 essential tips to get you started in PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds that’ll help you hit the island running.
Speed And Smarts
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds starts with up to 100 players parachuting onto a giant island. The goal is to fight and survive to be the only person left, and in practice, that means you’ll need to mix stealth, combat, and situational awareness to take out other players and avoid getting dropped yourself. Right from the beginning of the match, you’ll have control in the air as you descend onto the game world. During this time, you can see other players and move your character to avoid them.
Part of what makes Battlegrounds so interesting is its scope. The island is huge, allowing you to explore a big chunk of it for weapons, and features varied environments from power plants to houses to forests make for a lot of surprising encounters. But to win, you’ll need to be both quick and intelligent. When moving around, sometimes it’s best to holster your weapon to pick up speed. Though you will be more vulnerable, sometimes it’s more important to move quickly. Pay attention to your surroundings, both indoors and out, and try to anticipate where other players might be waiting for you, especially when you check buildings–even the bathtubs, as they’re a common hiding spot. Stay out of the open as much as possible and outsmart players by being patient and, to some degree, cautious. Your only goal is to stay alive, so sometimes, avoiding a fight is better than picking one. You can often get further in a match by letting other players do your dirty work for you and then picking them off when they’re vulnerable. Just know that players who do more killing often end up with better gear, which can stack the deck against you as you get into Battlegrounds’ later moments.
Learn (And Adjust) The Controls
The first thing you should do out of the gate is spend some time familiarizing yourself with the game’s controls, and making any adjustments you desire. There are a lot of inputs to remember, and you’ll need all your skills to play effectively. Among the most important is the ability to turn your head by holding down the Alt key (on PC) or the left stick (Xbox One). In third-person view mode, holding Alt or RB allows you to swivel the camera so you can see all the way around you without moving. This is essential, since the island is a huge place, and you constantly need to be on the lookout for other players. Everyone is gunning for you, and only by being more aware of your surroundings than your opponents will you emerge victorious.
You’ll also want to familiarize yourself with crouching and going prone, which minimize how visible you are and dictate how much sound your character makes while moving. Also, holding the Alt key can reduce the speed of your character, making them more quiet. Other handy controls include the B key or left on the D-pad, which lets you switch your weapons’ firing modes, and Tab or Option, which opens your inventory screen and lets you quickly loot nearby bodies within a short distance. Managing your inventory quickly and efficiently is a key part of PUBG, so more on that later.
For Xbox users, keep in mind that tapping, not holding, the left trigger will aim down sights. The back button opens the map, and LB boosts when you’re driving. To switch from third- to first-person perspective, hit RB.
Be Aware Of The Circle
In PUBG, you can’t just wander the island for as long as you want, wherever you want. Eventually, the play area constricts; if you check the in-game map with the M key, you’ll see a white circle designating the new play field, with a timer in the bottom-right corner of your display. When the timer runs out, a larger blue circle will begin to close in around the white one. If you’re caught outside the white circle when the blue one arrives, you’ll start to take damage–and the longer the game goes on, the more quickly the blue forcefield will kill you. So in addition to hunting down and fighting other players (or avoiding them), you need to continually make your way into the white circle to avoid dying. And each smaller circle means there’s a better and better chance you’ll run into other players.
In fact, a big part of every PUBG match is knowing where the circle is and how it’ll affect you. Smart players use the circle as part of their strategy, using it to predict other players’ movements and to ambush them as they flee its deadly contractions. You’ll often see people waiting on bridges and at other choke points where they know other players are forced to pass to keep inside the circle. Thinking about where the circle will force players to go, and anticipating bad situations when you’re forced to move, will help you survive.
What To Know About Your Gear
When you first drop onto the island in PUBG, you’ll have only the clothes on your back. If you happen to encounter a player immediately, you can punch them, but every drop is a race for the nearest buildings, and with them, guns. You’ll find guns and other equipment almost exclusively inside buildings, so most of the time, you’ll want to move from structure to structure.
Your primary concern at the outset of the game is to get armed, but you also will need more than guns. Gear in PUBG includes body armor, backpacks to lug your stuff, and health items. In every game, you immediately want to seek out a vest and helmet for protection. However, higher tiered gear can protect against the more vulnerable areas of your body, such as tier 3 helmet offering a facemask to protect against head damage. These won’t make you invincible, but they allow you to take a lot more damage and use up fewer healing items before dying.
Armor items and backpacks come in three tiers, with the third being the rarest and most effective. Most of the game is about checking buildings for better stuff, and you can expect other players to be doing the same. By the later stages of any match, expect your opponents to be pretty well decked out. Always keep an eye out for better gear, whether it’s in the buildings you stop by or on the players you kill.
Manage Your Inventory
Even with the biggest backpacks and best gear in Battlegrounds, your ability to carry equipment is limited. You can only cram so many first aid kits, energy drinks, and ammo boxes into your pockets. A lot of PUBG is about knowing what to take and what to leave behind, and setting up your weapons with useful attachments as quickly as possible.
You can open your character’s inventory screen with the Tab key or Option button, but know that you’re vulnerable while you’re messing with the menus. On the Inventory screen, you’ll see three weapon slots for two rifles or SMGs, a pistol, a melee weapon, and grenades, along with spaces for equippable armor. When you stand near gear you want to pick up, you’ll see it arrayed in the top-left corner of the screen, and you can pick items up from there instead of looking at them individually and hitting F or X. From there, you can drag items directly to where they go on your character, which cancels the “pick-up” animation that leaves your character vulnerable for a second or two. Once you get familiar with what gear goes where, this seemingly small consideration might save your life as you grab a gun or ammo in a clutch moment.
Knowing how to prioritize stuff in your inventory is extremely important. For instance, you only want to carry ammo for the guns you’ve got with you. While it’s tempting to pick up tons of bandages, they can only heal up to 75% health, and you may be better off keeping only a few on hand and saving space for boosts (which we’ll get to later) and medkits or first aid kits. Grenades can be effective, but their uses are pretty limited. As for attachments for weapons you don’t have, unless they’re very rare and potentially useful if you find the right gun (like suppressors), they’re just just dead weight and will clog up inventory space–especially for lower tiered backpacks that hold fewer items. If you do have a Tier 2 or 3 backpack, taking ammo or attachments for coveted weapons, space providing, can help prevent the opposition from getting ahold of important resources.
While you want to find as much good gear as quickly as possible in PUBG, you also want to throw away anything you’re not getting much use out of. Ammo for your assault rifle is much more important than ammo for your pistol, for instance. And even though your Tier 3 body armor might be damaged, it’s still more effective at stopping bullets than a Tier 1 vest.
It’s All About Sound
Situational awareness is essential in PUBG. The island is so big that it’s possible to go for long periods without seeing any other players, but catching sight of people before they see you is essential to making it all the way to the end. Even more important than sight, though, is sound.
Situational awareness is essential in PUBG. The map is so big that it’s possible to go for long periods without seeing any other players, but catching sight of people before they see you is essential to making it all the way to the end. Even more important than sight, though, is sound.
Sound carries quite a long way in PUBG. Fire a gun and you’ll be heard for a huge distance around you, often drawing more players to your location. Driving a vehicle creates even more sound, announcing your position to everyone in the area. But even at a local level, footsteps make a good amount of noise. You’ll often hear players before you see them, and being able to gauge the locations of noisy players and ambush them is an important skill–as is knowing where players might be waiting to do the same to you.
It’s highly recommended that you play Battlegrounds with a solid pair of headphones, preferably the wrap-around kind that support stereo sound. Your best assets in the game aren’t your guns but your ears. Most of the times you’ll encounter other players, you’ll hear them long before you see them.
Loot And Scoot
In PUBG, it’s important to keep moving and to constantly seek out better equipment. Hiding out in a good spot in the middle of the circle might seem like a great idea, but often you’ll handicap yourself–you might make it to the Top 10 in a game where you hide out in an attic for 20 minutes, but you’ll often be underpowered compared to the players who have been battling it out for the entire match. It’s important to balance caution with taking risks, and to learn which situations call for which approach.
In general, though, you’ll want to check a building as quickly as you can, get everything you need from it, and move on. But be aware of your surroundings. For players just starting out, a good thing to watch for are open doors. All the doors in PUBG are closed by default, so doors standing open were definitely opened by players. But you can also close doors behind you, which is a great way to throw someone off your trail or set up an ambush by making a building look untouched when you’re actually hiding inside. If you suspect an enemy might be nearby but the exterior doors on a building are closed, one good strategy is to check the windows. Interior doors are also closed by default, so if you can look into a building from the outside to see open doors on the inside, you might avoid walking into a trap.
It’s also worth noting that the biggest, most interesting buildings–apartments, the power plant, the military base, the school, and so on–often house the best gear. However, they also attract the most players who have the same idea to trek into large spaces for more valuable gear.
Learn The Good Weapons
There are a ton of guns in PUBG, and they’re not all equal. Some are good for different situations–a shotgun can be devastating in close-quarters interior combat but next to useless out in the field. Most guns can also support a number of attachments, from suppressors to better stocks, that change how they handle and can make middling weapons into powerhouses.
Your general approach should be to try to find assault rifles like the M16A and the AKM. These guns are reliable in a variety of situations and are great up close or at range, especially when you find scopes for them. Sniper rifles are rare and also worth snagging when you can find them, especially if you have a 4x or 8x scope. As you get better at PUBG, you’ll find getting the right guns and the optics to go with them is a big part of outfitting yourself to make it to the late stages of the game.
But if you can spend time messing with each gun, preferably in combat, figuring out what weapons you personally like and do well with is better than any generalized advice. Learning the weapons of the game and getting comfortable with them will also make you more adaptive. Know where your strengths lie and play to them, while increasing your skills in areas they don’t. A big part of the Battlegrounds experience is learning the ins and outs of the guns so that you can do well, whether you have your favorite weapons or something you found in an emergency.
Healing And Boosting Are Essential
Other key items you’ll find in Battlegrounds are first-aid kits, medkits, bandages, painkillers, and energy drinks. These are all healing items, but they don’t all work in the same way. Bandages, for instance, will restore 10 percent of your health, but only up to 75 percent of your maximum. First aid kits are the same way; they’ll heal you any amount up to the 75 percent threshold. Only rarer medkits and boosting items–painkillers and energy drinks–can fully restore you to 100 percent health.
Boosters work differently from straight-up health items. Using an energy drink or a painkiller fills a small bar located above your health bar, which indicates your boost level. At the first level, your character will gradually heal, which means you can use boosters to restore yourself to 100 percent from 75 percent health, but gradually, over several seconds. Using more boosters will give you other benefits, like a slightly increased run speed and quicker gun handling, that can be essential in the late game.
But it’s important to note that all healing items don’t work immediately. You’ll have to stay still for several seconds as you deploy them. That means in order to use a first aid kit or drink an energy drink, you’ll be vulnerable. Plan accordingly.
Watch Out For The Red Zone
Occasionally, you’ll see a bright red circle appear on the map, combined with an on-screen announcement that a Red Zone has started. This is a warning to get to cover if you’re in the affected area. After a few seconds, bombs will start to fall and explode randomly across the area for a short period, adding another way you can meet your death in PUBG.
Red zones are by no means an instant death sentence, however. If you’re running through a red zone and you’ve got no shelter, you should keep running and hope for the best. If you’re in a car, you can often successfully drive through. If you can, get in a house, and stay away from doors and windows to be safe–since bombs can break glass and damage you if you’re too close. If you’re traveling and see a red zone pop up, avoid it, as it can be deadly at worst and noisy and distracting at best.
When you do eventually get into a fight with another player, knowing where to stand and how to protect yourself is extremely helpful. Bullets never penetrate through trees, making them great cover, but bushes only make you hard to see, not hard to kill. Doors won’t stop incoming fire, but walls will. You can also use the Q and E keys to lean left and right, allowing you to peek out from behind cover or around a corner to take shots without exposing your entire body.
When you get killed in a fight, try to pay attention to where you were and what you did wrong. Were you standing right in front of a door when an enemy decided to blow it out with their shotgun? Did you strafe the wrong way around a tree? Learn where you’re safe and where you aren’t, and then use that knowledge to limit the situations in which you’re less safe than the enemy.
Play Smarter Than The Competition
All the best guns and gear in PUBG don’t hold a candle to your most important weapon: Your brain. PUBG is a game about assessing situations quickly and dealing with them accordingly. That means that just because you hear gunfire in the distance doesn’t mean you go charging toward it, and just because you see an enemy 100 yards off doesn’t mean you start unloading in their direction in the hope you might rack up a kill.
Discretion is the name of the game in PUBG. Knowing when you are an effective fighter and when you’re not, and turning the situation to your advantage, is what the game is really about. In practice, that means you usually should avoid firing your gun. Unless you’re confident you can take out the other player, opening fire is like unfurling a giant “come kill me” sign above your head. Shooting at someone and failing to kill them risks providing them with the knowledge of your location, giving them a better chance to kill you. And that’s to say nothing of the other curious players who might come to investigate the noise.
Being smart doesn’t necessarily mean being meek, though. For a lot of new players, it’s easy to give into the tension of Battlegrounds and to find a place to hole up to wait for the end of the match. Not only is that boring, but it won’t teach you anything. It can be useful to drop into some of the busiest locations in PUBG, like the centers of towns or the military bases, and get into some fights. The game currently doesn’t include a killcam or any other way of seeing who kills you and from where–so if you hide in an attic all game before being forced to make a run for the circle as it contracts, only to get sniped by some player you never see, you won’t learn anything. And learning is how you become better.
So don’t be afraid to try and fail. The odds are 99 to one that you’ll die in a PUBG match. Don’t fear death or get frustrated by it; embrace it and let those experiences make you better. PUBG is a game about outsmarting other players, and it takes a lot of losing to learn how best to do that.